Album Review: Little Desert – Saeva

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Sit down. Don’t bring anything with you, you won’t need it. Just the bare essentials. Strap yourself in. No, really, ground yourself so that you are physically unable to move. Get comfy, you’ll be in this position for precisely 35 minutes and 29 seconds. That’s how long it takes for Little Desert’s debut album to wash over you. Peaks, troughs, all of it – it’s a musical lobotomy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-style. It’s the most brilliantly theatrical album of 2015, and you heard it here first.

After gently teasing this album for the past six months, with the two singles “Captive” and “Resurrection” causing a bit of a stir, Little Desert have finally dropped Saeva, and it’s fearsome. They could coat the album in serrated blades loaded with disease –  one prick and you’re a dead man – but it wouldn’t make the record any more dangerous. It rears and plunges, shakes its mane, refusing to be anything less than an immersive, devouring work of art.

The first thing to notice about Saeva is how ghoulish this thing is. And not in the sort of Addams Family, jokey way; boo, gotcha hahaha. No, there is the definitive scent of a corpse that haunts this album. The next noticeable aspect is that Little Desert prove they are the lords of the crescendo, continually building songs from rubble into spectres that chase the viewer into dark corners. The ghosts are there, hammering on the doors to come out; they’re embedded in the cries of Esther Rivers, the panicked guitar stampedes, the tense synth riffs. Everything is buckling under pressure, running at a desperate pace, trying to escape. Take “Captive”: it rises, slowly, slowly, begins to scurry, in a zig zag, menacing repetition one moment, blistering guitar solos the next. It reverts back and forth, dizzying and demonic; by its finale, Little Desert have you begging for mercy AND more.

That intention of crescendo is present in almost all of Saeva. It’s not always the threatening blare of “Captive” – “Sinner” and “She’s Alive” wander into murder ballad territory, whilst “Soothsayer” contains a psych tint. But when Little Desert hit their grim stride, that’s when they’re at their peak. Take “Resurrection”, which marches from a funeral pace to a gallop, led by the charging Rivers. Her bellow stands commanding, directing the frantic synth arpeggios, and diving boulders of guitar into the a finale even better than Hellraiser, and that movie had hooks ripping off every bit of a guy’s flesh!

Little Desert have always impressed with their boldness, and they haven’t disappointed with Saeva. It’s tense, and tragic, and when they scratch their nails across the whiteboard, Little Desert light up, especially when Rivers’ thundering roar takes centre stage. It’s theatrical, huge and dense, a record you can be suffocated and squashed by, and not mind in the slightest.

You can grab Saeva from the it Records Bandcamp here. Little Desert are doing a few launches up the East Coast real soon: Saturday, 21st at The Tote in Melbourne (w/ Teuton, Mollusc and Half Mongrel), the 26th at Blackwire Records (w/ Ela Stiles and Whitney Houston’s Crypt) and a hell of a party in Brissy at the Crowbar on the 28th (w/ OCCULTS, Last Chaos, Pleasure Symbols and Death Church)

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New: Little Desert – Captive

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Holy shit! Listen to this song! Watch this video! Rejoice in the fact that Little Desert is a band! They are so good! So, so, so good! It’s like Rowland S. Howard and Siouxsie Sioux teamed up for the most frantic and intriguing song of 2015!

There are three very distinct sections to “Captive”, but it’s hard to decide which is more essential. It begins with an overwhelming sense of biting anxiety, albeit buried under softly pattering guitar and soaring vocals. Things then fade into an almost completely different song: dooming rolls of thundering drums, spindly guitar and keys that belong in a slasher flick directed by Ed Wood, before indulging in one of the most arresting displays of theatrics since people lost their shit to Madama Butterfly. It’s a controlled blast of icy, gothic rage, and it’s a ride and a half that should shave your the skin off your cranium.

Do yourself a favour, listen to this song, and love this band. They are worth every second of your precious, precious time.

New: Miles Brown + Taipan Tiger Girls

Two tracks that prove it Records are the bees knees!

Miles Brown – Apparition

Jesus, would you look at this dark, brooding icicle jab to the heart! With a twirling snarl as sinister as Scar from the Lion King, and assisted by some very cool stalactites of sound, Miles Brown knocks it out of the park with a soundtrack that’s like Scooby Doo meets the X-Files. The elongated alien whirrs that this singular entity is capable of is freakish, the way they’re stretched into ghoulish haunts are creepy, and the whole thing reeks of spot on dark wave musicality.

Taipan Tiger Girls – Motion

Here’s one that’ll split the crowd like Moses split the red sea. Some folks out there are gonna hate this like ol’ Tone hates equality. But then there’s the people worth hanging out with, and they’ll love this. Taipan Tiger Girls bring the drone, twisting their undulating noise at a frantic rate, with live drums spurring the process into some sort of heated debate between the instruments. This stuff, it fucks with your mind! It’s brilliant, and sickening, both at the same time! It’s all a bit strange, and thwarted, but would you really want it any other way? Can’t wait to hear this in the album format!

Album Review: Liam Kenny – A Kenny For Your Thoughts

Liam Kenny, of the stellar bands Bitch Prefect, Peak Twins, Silly Joel & the Candymen and The Friendsters, has released his first solo record. In the great tradition of Saturday night karaoke/OD’ing on saki wine, he has re-iterpretated underrated classics from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Billy Idol, and Bob Dylan, amongst others. And when I write re-interpret, I mean soulfully collapse and rebuild, and when I write underrated classics, I mean songs I wish someone had introduced me to a hell of while earlier.

Cover bands are a strange anomaly, in that they can either be a cheap way of watching someone else do a better job than the real thing could do themselves (hats off to SPOD’s Bon Voyage).  Or it can be a depressing reminder that your local pub is stocked with the desperate lameshits trying to reclaim their youth by repeatedly yelling “Born to Be Wild” into a microphone like a wildebeest has clamped its jaw around their genitals. And then, there’s that weird grey area where someone re-interprets a classic for the better, something that bands have managed to do really well sometimes (like here and here) or fuck up completely other times.

But here, Liam Kenny does a fine job of taking songs and reworking them into completely soul-shattering ballads. He’s always had a very diverse body of work, whether slyly thumping drums with sunnies adorned to slimy punk, or cranking rickety guitars to gutter-observations of Australian lifestyle, and spitting rhymes about how all music sucks. But on ‘A Kenny For Your Thoughts’, he flits between styles as organically as our government can embarrass our nation. The fact that he’s picked less obvious artists, instead of gravitating to the usual “Hallelujah” and “My Sharona”, makes it all the more worthwhile.

The thing that seemed to get a lot of people (including my stumpy, ginger self) excited was Kenny’s take on “Avalanche” by Leonard Cohen. Featuring saxophone by Al Montfort (Total Control, The UV Race, all the bands ever), the track is six-minutes of industrial, back-breaking terror, scorned guitars gnashing the flesh from your ears. It’s hollow and terrifying, staring into the eye of the beast whilst he devours your soul. It’s a mesh of colour and flavour, grinded to an almost incomprehensible carnivorous version from the original.

However, “Avalanche” and its tumultuous face-chewing is the outlier of the record. The rest of the record is devoted to mostly calmer, regarded interpretations. There’s the dainty sci-fi of “Eyes Without A Face”, a plodding unsure cover of Billy Idol, and an off-kilter “It’s All Over Now (Baby Blue)” which will make you soul crack faster than Kenny’s voice does. That finale makes you want to crawl into a fetal position and just listen to this trickling synth-laced track until you turn into the ghoul from Tales From the Crypt.

In saying all this, the themes of each song remain intact in the hands of Liam Kenny. The opener of Neil Young’s “I’m the Ocean” still retains all the hurt and power as Young had in his crackling 1995 original. The slow-build into schizophrenic noise territory just accentuates the ideas of being misplaced, and Kenny’s ability to thrust into each lyric makes them stand out just as much as when Neil Young was doing them in the first place. Whilst Kenny has taken creative liberties, he never removes the original ida from any song.

This Friday night, when you’re counting down the days until NRL season starts again, and you’re pounding a Reschs, look at the local Fleetwood Mac cover band. Then think back to what Liam Kenny has done on this LP. In his own unassuming way, he has delivered one hell of a varied, and worthy debut from such an accomplished musician.

 

‘A Kenny For Your Thoughts’ available through it Records now.

New Weird Electronic: Bistro feat. Simo Soo + AFXJIM + Liam Kenny

There’s been a whole bunch of awesome weird electronic/production stuff released as of late, that’s like, heaps fucking good hey. So check it out harder than I check out my groceries for a long night of my favourite dish of Spaghetti-4-1 aka loneliness.

Bistro feat. Simo Soo

It’s hard not to become strangely enraptured in this single from Sydney beatsmith Bistro. It’s like Flying Lotus is having a panic attack after ingesting too many Vicodin, and completely flipped his lid. The production on here is fucking solid, a brick wall of static and piercing drum beats. Also, that chorus is going to get stuck in your head faster than a Madonna song.

Pair this damn flawless hip-hop track with a video that is part vibrantly haunted television ad, part Grim Reaper hanging out on your porch, and you’ve got something indescribably good. With mushy beats as infectious as this and a uniquely freaky video to go with it, these guys might have just risen straight to the top of Australian hip-hop’s wealthiest, such as  Milwaukee Banks and Silly Joel & the Candymen.

AFXJIM – Distant

Oh. AFXJIM. Like Aphex Twin, right? Actually, that’s kinda clever and/or cool. But if Aphex Twin dialled down the alerted schizophrenia, and actually took his pills and laid down on the calmdown couch, he might morph into a little something like his Sydney counterpart AFXJIM. The songs on here are sharp and expertly produced, sliced together to form a slinky smorgasbord of songs. The offerings differ wildly, from the worldly indie-rock of the title track, to the prickly “Requiem For A Broken Discoverer”, and the hazy “Autumn Diary”. AFXJIM’s ability to combine samples and music into something strange but bright is really quite excellent.

Liam Kenny – Avalanche

Like the song, Liam Kenny’s clip for “Avalanche” is a health hazard. It’ll suck you up and spit you out like you’re a jellybean flavour that it took a while to decide that it didn’t like. It’s cruel and cutthroat, set in a world where lines and knives adorn a table where a game of who-knows-the-fuck-what is taking place. And all the meanwhile, a bespectacled Liam Kenny stares on, shades on and ready to re-interpret classics like Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche”.

Video: White Hex-Paradise

‘Paradise’ remains one of my favourite songs of the year, an overwhelming pop song, with laced gothic inflections and soaring synth lines that scale the heights of melody like those zombies from World War Z. And just like World War Z, there’s the handsome-as-Brad-Pitt vocals from Tara Green ricochetting loveliness everywhere.

The film clip goes for a dark path, imaging the synth duo as robbers, human runways replete with the most fashionable home invasion suits since The Italian Job remake. The video is stark and sexy, combining the images of near torture and with the obvious affection between Green and her partner Jimi Kritzler. Suave as hell, this is a narrative that brilliantly matches the glorious tune that is ‘Paradise’.

New: Liam Kenny-Avalanche

Nothing can prepare you for this. Nothing. You could’ve just done battle with a robot Elton John whilst Rob Zombie cooked falafels to sell to a drunk John Malkovich who won’t stop calling his ex-girlfriends. You could have just come from that scenario, and yet you’ll still be floored by this song.

‘Avalanche’ if the debut single from Liam Kenny, who’s a member in a shitload of great bands: Bitch Prefect, Peak Twins, Roamin’ Catholics, Silly Joel & the Candymen and The Friendsters. You might be noticing that that’s a wide variety of genres, from guitar pop to screaming punk and even hip-hop. Well, that’s because Kenny is a man of diverse tastes. You can’t nail him down and pigeonhole him.

Which is why ‘Avalanche’ lurching, disturbing, paranoid feel comes as no surprise. Originally a Leonard Cohen song (yes, you read that right) Kenny has turned it into a screeching banshee cry of electronic music, something so harsh and undulating that the brown note gets hit at least three times in the space of its hypnotising six minutes. Featuring Dick Diver/The UV Race’s Al Montfort on sax, and Zond’s Justin Fuller, Kenny surrounds himself with the best possible company to create one of the most weathering pieces of music this side of Cthulhu bellowing in your ear.

The full covers album, ‘A Kenny For Your Thoughts’ comes out soon on it Records!

New Aus Music Pt. I : TV Programmes+ Little Desert + Hailer + Yeo + The Jones Rival

Nothing more Australian than watching Neighbours, chilling next to Uluru in the desert, hailing a cab at 2 in the morning on the way home from the Cross,saying ‘Yo’ to your inner city homies, and getting all riled up as the number 6 jersey of Jones kicks the winning goal, and cements his place as an eternal enemy.  As you might have noticed, those are vaguely related things in relation to the bands about to be reviewed, as suggested by the title. So, after an incredibly complicated introduction, here’s a bunch of bands that are making some sick music in our backyard.

 

 

TV Programmes-Combuster

First up is the vague Neighbours reference. TV programmes are something we all watch, and the Sydney band should be no different. Unless your one of those strange mongoloids that stubbornly refuses to move on and watch a fucking screen. C’mon man, conform to societal expectations! All the cool kids are doing it!

Inside TV Programmes debut EP is a swarming organism of laid back pop, and it’s a goddamn beautiful sight, like witnessing the Grand Canyon for the first time, or seeing Tony Abbott get kicked out of parliament (fingers crossed guys!). The music is mostly a murky shoegaze assortment, but there’s less feedback and reverb than, say, Sunbeam Sound Machine or Day Ravies. Nonetheless, this band capture the same sweeping but frantic romantic gestures of those band. Right now, TV Programmes are constructing some delicate harmonies (a la Bearhug) and need to just continue that vein to earn all the money ever.

 

 

 

Little Desert-Ashes 7″

Now for a turn of the macabre and melodramatic, it’s Little Desert. These guys are very similar to Harmony, doing crazy deep things that make me feel things that my therapist would describe as ‘progressing towards true emotion’. Fuck that! I want to be tucked away in sombre depression, hiding away my feelings from the world and pretending I don’t care! I don’t want some random band from Melbourne that features one of the most sorrowfully beautiful voices I’ve heard to make me empty salt water from my eyes!

But seriously, ‘Ashes’ is fucking heart-wrenching and beautiful and dramatic, and if The Drones had to have a spiritual sibling, Id be totally fine with having Little Desert take up the mantle.

 

Hailer-El Cosmico

Hailer are a band from Sydney that sound either sound like Arcade Fire at their best, or Dead Moon watching a Dukes of Hazard marathon. Seriously, each of the six songs patiently alternates between either the former or latter category. ‘Cold Outside’ could’ve been taken from Ernest Ellis’ new album, and ‘Symbol and Allegory’ wouldn’t sound out of place on Beck’s ‘Sea Change’ record. Meanwhile, ‘Crucify the Commodore’ and ‘Machine Music’ revel in noisy rock territory, sliding between psychedelic hopelessness and full-blown in-ya-face 80’s pop-punk rock (Husker Du, The Replacements). While Hailer might not be breaking any new ground, it’s still good to see a band that can play a bit of rock music well.

 

Yeo-Kobe

The new one from Yeo is a jilted orchestra away from being a Phillip Glass-meets-Little Dragon-meets-Friendly Fires clash. It starts out like a highly strung electro-pop tune, but slowly manoeuvres into a soulful and genuine track that bounces and vibrates as hard as the strings with which the song samples. It’s a surprise that Yeo isn’t a household pop name, but I guess that’s the way Melbourne likes to keep ’em.

 

The Jones Rival-Uncle Frank

I’ve never had an Uncle Frank, but I can imagine that he’d be a good bloke. Plays footy, has a killer handlebar moustache, and can down a half-case of VeeBosses before regaling you with tales of how great INXS were at the local RSL back in the day. The Jones Rival garner that image pretty hard in this single, utilising a gravel-heavy, garage-soaked sound. It’s very akin to some of the loose bohemian tunes the Brian Jonestown Massacre displayed heavily on ‘Take It From the Man’ and ‘Thank God For Mental Illness’. Which is a super good thing. Super dooper good.

New: White Hex-Paradise

Don’t worry, this song sounds nothing like Coldplay’s song of the same name. While that certain track sounds like babies dying, this one is so uplifting and degenerating at the same time, you’d swear you were living in some sort of George R. Martin fantasy novel. It’s kind of HTRK-y, but done in a higher octave, with more hope interjected. There’s also touches of the Italians Do It Better crew (Chromatics, Glass Candy) mingling in there. But really, what keeps the peeps coming back is the orgasmic synth reaches, and swirling atmospheres. ‘Paradise’ is absolutely, gobsmackingly crazy good, and I say that with more seriousness than A Few Good Men’s Jack Nicholson.

New: Miles Brown-Electrics

Miles Brown seems like the name of an up-n-coming jazz musician, with stars in his eyes and a contract from Mo-Town in his hand. My insta-sumption of someone named Miles=jazz was instantly dashed by the fact that Miles Brown is actually a Melbourne electro musician that makes weirdly erotic music to glare at neon signs to.

And guess what, his music rules harder than the laws of gravity. And I don’t say that without knowing the full consequences of such an allusion. The Issac Newtown of electronica? Bullshit, right? Fuck you, because Miles Brown manages to combine darkness, non-conformity, and being revolutionary all into a logical, compressed and easy-to-follow guide known as his new 7″.

There’s lush layers, daintily tripping synths, weird jaws of snapping samples, and best of all, a voice that is all to akin to Kirin J Callinan. Make no mistake about it, Miles Brown is going to be right up there in Australian darkwave, with the likes of Pitchfork approved HTRK and Standish/Carlyon.

After you’ve cleaned up the drool, make sure you go about buying these songs.